Thursday, November 27, 2008

Late Fall at Shaw's Garden

THE MISSOURI BOTANICAL Garden — popularly known as Shaw's Garden — is delightful all year around, but in winter-time most of the floral action is inside of the greenhouses, unless you happen to look very carefully. These photos, taken November 25th, are perhaps some of the last nice views of the year's growing season.

Missouri Botanical ("Shaw's") Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Trapp Family Lodge model

The theme of this year's Christmas floral exhibit is the New England state of Vermont, and shown here a model of the Trapp Family Lodge, in Stowe, Vermont.

Missouri Botanical ("Shaw's") Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - pink camellia flower

A camellia flower, in the Linnean House.

Missouri Botanical ("Shaw's") Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - grass

Decorative grasses.

Missouri Botanical ("Shaw's") Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - sundial in Ottoman Garden

A fairly complex sundial, located in the Ottoman Garden. Gnomonics, the study of sundials, has a history going back at least 5,500 years in Egypt, and we ought to remember that the study of the passage of time was quite accurate even in remote antiquity. The Ottomans, as did the Latins of the West, got their knowledge of sundials from the Greek philosophers. Could any sundial expert shed some light on this dial's furnishings, particularly the analog graph and nodus in the middle, and the Omega with arrow near the bottom?

Sundials in the West, up to the end of the age of Christendom, showed 'temporary' hours — hours that would vary in length throughout the year — and each particular day (or night) was exactly divided into twelve hours. The length of Divine Office prayers, as defined by Saint Benedict, varied according to season in recognition of these variable hours. Strangely, a day divided into twelve hours was used in major cultures throughout the ancient world.

Missouri Botanical ("Shaw's") Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - fountain in Ottoman Garden

An Ottoman-style fountain.

Missouri Botanical ("Shaw's") Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - holly berries

Holly berries, Ilex genus, in the Victorian Garden.

Missouri Botanical ("Shaw's") Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - roses ready to bloom

Rose buds, ready to bloom, at this time of year?

Missouri Botanical ("Shaw's") Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - lily pads in pond

Lilly pads in a pond, hidden-away and rarely-visited but by the birds of the air.

Missouri Botanical ("Shaw's") Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - birch tree

Birch tree (Betula genus), in the English Woodland Garden.  The cold months in Saint Louis often feature brilliant, clear, saturated skies, as seen here, in contrast to the pale haze of summer.

Missouri Botanical ("Shaw's") Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Japanese Maples in Japanese Garden

Japanese Maples, in the Japanese Garden. Tokyo, Japan, has a climate similar to Saint Louis, and so species of gardens of that type thrive well here. Oddly enough, there were some maple trees in this garden that were still nearly entirely green at this late time of year — just one leaf was starting to turn red; I was curious as to its species, but the tree's tag just indicated that it was of the Acer genus, species unknown.

Missouri Botanical ("Shaw's") Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - lantern in Japanese Garden.

A traditional lantern.

Missouri Botanical ("Shaw's") Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Zen landscape in Japanese Garden

Chrysanthemums, with rapidly-declining blooms, above a raked garden.

Shaw's Japanese Garden is in the style known as a "wet strolling garden", as developed by the mid 19th century. Although the design of such gardens is based on religious principles, perhaps unfamiliar to us, a Catholic ought to recognize that all that is true, good, and beautiful ultimately comes from God; however, we also ought to note that the Japanese have a natural law tradition, and so values many familiar principles of number, symmetry, similarity, order, and scale.

Missouri Botanical ("Shaw's") Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - koi in Japanese Garden

Hungry koi, ornamental varieties of the Common carp (Cyprinus carpio), beg for food. Koi breeding began in the 18th century.

Missouri Botanical ("Shaw's") Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - koi and duck in Japanese Garden

But Mr. Duck (a Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos) quickly grabbed all of the food I dropped into the water for the sluggish fish. Such speed is an advantage of being warm blooded. But if the fish can't eat now, they can always wait until next month: such is the advantage of being cold blooded!

Missouri Botanical ("Shaw's") Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - zig-zag bridge in Japanese Garden

A zig-zag bridge.

Missouri Botanical ("Shaw's") Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - bridge in Japanese Garden

A drum bridge amidst rapidly-fading floral color. It was a remarkably beautiful and mild day, nearly perfect for a stroll.

Missouri Botanical ("Shaw's") Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - bridge in Chinese Garden

A marble bridge in the Chinese Garden.

Missouri Botanical ("Shaw's") Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - winterberries in Bird Garden

Winterberries, Ilex verticillata, in the Bird Garden.

Other of my photos of the Garden are found here, here, here, here, here, herehereherehere, and here.

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